Tuesday, December 21, 2010
from Will Lindsay (Indian, Wolves in the Throne Room)
P.S. The Horseback album (The Invisible Mountain) would have been our 2010 list, but we already put it on our 2009 list since Utech released it first.
Locrian's "The Crystal World" starts out deep inside of the earth in an endless cave that seems like an abyss. Stalagmites twinkle just enough to create a partial circle of light, but beyond the radius of visibility, things slither and crawl on the walls and floor. Then you hear it. Somewhere deeper down in the cave is a monster, something that speaks, screams and wails in desperation and anger, something that you know will kill you if it finds you. It sounds closer and closer as the earth around you hums with increasing intensity. It's as if death is coming to meet you instead of waiting for you to stumble upon it. This is what it is to enter Locrian's "The Crystal World."
The Chicago trio of André Foisy, Terence Hannum and Steven Hess craft their nightmarish sound world out of remnants of krautrock, drone, post-rock and black metal creating their own unique brand of experimental terror. The album was inspired by J.G. Ballard's novel "The Crystal World," wherein the earth's vegetation succumbs to an apocalyptic crystallization. The world that Ballard creates sparkles even as it devastates, and Locrian have captured perfectly that quality of glimmering beauty amidst inevitable destruction.
The record follows a narrative arch with one song bleeding into the next to make for an audial journey into the heart of darkness. The impending doom that informs opener "Triumph of Elimination" quietly pervades "At Night's End," which follows. The track eventually explodes with pounding percussion, epic guitar squalls and a voice that has turned from hateful to haunted. One can imagine anguished flight from the terror in the darkness as the song plays out. The band ups the ante on the phenomenal title track which mixes minimalist repeating guitar patterns against varying drones of ascending madness and doom while Hess' drums stumble around the piece like a battered and exhausted victim of unfathomable horrors.
"Pathogens" begins the record's second half with drones that resemble distant emergency sirens, rising and falling in intensity. Inevitably the horror creeps back into the immediate as squelching electronics and guitar approach closer and closer to the foreground until they eventually overtake it along with with Hess' rattling tom beats.
With "Obsidian Facades" that desperate hate-filled voice returns, screaming out from the depths. A steady dark guitar drone underlies the piece, while haunted atmospherics swirl over the surface calling to mind Paysage d'Hiver's "Kerker," Sunn 0)))'s "Black One" and Nortt to some degree. The track ends with a shimmering guitar refrain reminiscent of Labradford that offers a tiny fragment of hope. "Elevations and Depths" brings the album to a close in a manner that is powerful, beautiful and deeply moving, even as it snuffs out that tiny fragment of hope. Acoustic guitars and harmoniums mix with all of the elements the band have mined thus far to make for an intense swelling finale that is tragic in tone. The horror wins at the end of "The Crystal World," but not without a good fight, making the denouement that much more heartbreaking.
The effect of "Elevations" belies the grimness of "The Crystal World," and exposes a deeper humanity that runs throughout the record. There is warm beating heart at the center of the album that elevates it far beyond simple atmospheric dark ambient or doom, and makes for a deeply effecting musical experience. As I shape up my "best of" list for 2010, Locrian's "The Crystal World" looks to be a shoe-in for both its unique musical vision, and it's gut-wrenching emotionality. Highly recommended.
Thursday, December 16, 2010
A Collaborative Zine and CDR from Terence Hannum and Thomas Martin Ekelund
Edition of 100 | 7" × 7" | 24 pages
Black and White color xerox printing
w/ audio CDR in black xerox on black envelope
Inside of letter-pressed 7" Arigato Pack
"The Infinite Light, A Living Silence, Whose Name Cannot be Uttered."
Completing artist and musician Terence Hannum's year long monthly zine project, Heresies, brings Swedish musician and designer Thomas Martin Ekelund into the fold. The twelfth and final zine in Hannum's series functions much like a call and response on the fringes of some mystic quest culling content from Gnostic heretics to further interrogate the void where Ekelund would design a mystical sigil and Hannum would respond with an invocation in gouache.
Both accomplished musicians, Ekelund with his now defunct project Dead Letters Spell Out Dead Words and Hannum with his solo work and contributions to Locrian contributed to the audio CDR. And the audio content is immense. An over thirty-four minute massive drone work out that does not fear melody or haunting ambience. "Heresies" was also built on a back and forth between Hannum and Ekelund with Ekelund on Guitar, Bass, Piano, Organ, iPhone and Field Recordings and Hannum providing layers of vocal chants, singing and profanations.
Heresies the zine and CDR also comes packaged in a deluxe fold-over 7" square letter-pressed Stumptown Arigato pack made of thick (18pt.) brown 100% PCW recycled chipboard featuring a work from both of the artists on letter-pressed onto its two sides. Letterpressed by Dexterity Press and hand assembled.
$20ppd US/ $25ppd World orders - PayPal
Europe/World - firstname.lastname@example.org
Thomas Martin Ekelund
Heresies (edit) by TerenceHannum
Brooklyn Vegan: the year 2010 in metal (BBG's favorite records & live shows)
All Music Guide's Favorite Metal Albums of 2010
and Jenks Miller's section of "The Best Metal Albums of 2010" as listed in Metalsucks.com
Tuesday, December 14, 2010
Monday, December 13, 2010
Having groped their way fantastically into their/our demo-less Teens, Locrian enter maturity with 'The Crystal World'. Coming off the stunning display of vision on 'Territories', the pair of Hannum and Foisy now recruit collaborator Steven Hess of On to formalize a style of doom all their own, breaking sharply from the occultism (Sunn, Sleep) and rockness (Thrones, Boris) of the reigning sound to generate a musical cosmology with science-fictitious detail. A truly "high definition" release, the painstaking editing here casts such a depth as to often swallow with shadow the harmonic structures which equally break all precedence for the band. Extended intro "Triumph of Elimination" seethes with heating currents and a variety of buzzing statics; clattering like a shrapnel wind-chime, little ornaments trickle high as the ear strains to make out the approaching barrage of a droning horn, a pure wrath prophesied in shredded, Eric Wood bellows. With less than a beat of breath, "At Night's End" begins with a chant of indeterminate benevolence, the trickle now closer and the circuitry cool. It's halfway through, or nearly 10 minutes into the album that we're reminded of the guitar-derived leads which made 'Territories' such a statement. Yet this guitared sound is on it's way out, even when it arrives, as the doom sludge is always peeling upward, elevating the track, and ultimately giving way to the modular loops of John Carpenter horror ballad and title track "The Crystal World" (suitably sourced to a JG Ballard story). Guitar is almost an afterthought on "Pathogens", where Hess' percussion confirms a central, dominant position within the granular portrait: not ambient but rendered as ambiance, the image is spacious and less-figurative, but it's meant to be looked at (hard). As if to reclaim their authority over the work, "Obsidian Facades" offers just such a glassy finish of human breaths and breathy frequencies of shredded, fuzzy guitar, in the end breaking only as a reference into the theatrics of ISIS or Cave-in as a segue into the simply-massive conclusion "Elevations and Depths", a sort of 'Brief History of' Metal since 1997. Not an album to be taken for granted, 'The Crystal World' is a rich, rewarding listen and a worthy sequel to the wonder that has become Locrian. CD version also includes a second disc with the 54-minute "Extinction", in case all that bleak didn't convince you. Pro-pressed discs snugged into a heavy gatefold sleeve with stunning art by Vberkvlt. Recommended, inevitably. (Utech 2CD, $17 HERE)
Friday, December 10, 2010
Land of Decay 012 (Sun Splitter 'II") Release Show, January 7th, 2011/Sun Splitter Live at the Mopery or Check Out All of the SAIC Students Mosh
On Friday, January 7th, 2011, we'll have the next Land of Decay release out from one of our favorite groups around today: Sun Splitter. Mark this on your calendar. The next batch of tapes will be an edition of 100 copies and they are sure to go fast. We'll have more information on that release soon. Here are the details for the show:
3855 N. Lincoln Avenue
Chicago, Illinois 60613
TIME: 9:00 PM
There are three vidoes of them performing at the last show at the Mopery in Chicago. For those of you who don't live in Chicago, the Mopery was the most disgusting and awesome places to see a show and Sun Splitter killed it at this one. Other performers from the night killed it too (like Mark Solotroff and Ono), but Sun Splitter was the only group who played that had a mosh pit. There were probably over 300 people at this show which just riled up all of the filth in the loft space. If you look at the videos closely, you can actually see the Mopery-dirtscum in the air.
So get excited since the next Land of Decay tape is great. If you don't know who Sun Splitter are then you will very soon.
It’s impossible to attach a label to what Locrian have accomplished on The Crystal World, but it’s dangerously close to that elusive, perfect balance between hostile dark ambient textures and more focused and emotive metal structures. With elements from metal, ambient, drone, and noise, Locrian’s soundscapes are supremely evocative and almost soundtrack-like, like if you took Negura Bunget at their most symphonic and extended that creativity and atmosphere over an entire album, or if you took Xela’s Dead Sea and made it about 100 times darker. The Crystal World is menacing, harsh, and utterly terrifying at times, but strangely soothing and peaceful at others.
Indeed, the visceral effectiveness of The Crystal World owes as much to Locrian’s use of dynamics, contrast and song structure as it does to the the album’s frightening sonic tapestries and lurking electronics. The opening pair of songs basically amount to one massive build, with the sparse, unsettling crawl of ‘Triumph of Elimination’ giving way to the dirge-like reverence of the closing moments of ‘At Night’s End.’ The opening of ‘Obsidian Facades,’ consisting of desperate, echoing screams which evoke a 28 Days Later-like vision of utter fear and helplessness, owes much of its horrifying impact on the listener to the contrast with the subtle dynamics of the rest of the album and the softening final minutes of the song.
Elsewhere on The Crystal World, Locrian treat the listener to some sonic experimentation while still managing to maintain the dark, tense atmosphere that pervades the album. ‘Pathogens’ features a storm of nearly improvisational percussion over spacey guitar feedback, while the wailing guitars on the title track are used almost as a vocal replacement, giving an emotive edge to the backdrop of quietly mysterious keyboards and ambient distortion.
While it feels like a stretch to classify Locrian’s sound as metal, especially since The Crystal World is mostly devoid of anything resembling a power chord, it still manages to capture the genre’s aggression, its harshness, and Locrian’s music taps into the listener’s primal, subconscious mind in a similar way. The difference is that Locrian does not limit their sonic palette to fit into any particular genre or specific sound, and the result is that this music often penetrates much deeper, taking the listener to places they never thought possible.
Monday, December 6, 2010
Amazing videos by:
Scott Cummings: "Obsidian Facades"
Sterling Crispin: "Extinction" (Excerpt)
Colin Leipelt: "Triumph of Elimination"
Raymond Salvatore Harmone: "At Night's End"
Nicholas O'Brien: "Pathogens" (Edit)
Thanks to our friend Demian for the great review of the DLSODW tape!
Dead Letters Spell Out Dead Words
Land of Decay
Dead Letters Spell Out Dead Words was brand new to me when I heard this cassette. Turns out the project is not new and the tape has been out for awhile as well. I gotta say that it's pretty damn good. Beautiful and building drones swirl and merge in a large empty room. Structured compositions with a more than just your typical melancholy feel really effect you on a deeply troubled level. I was surprised as I was expecting something a bit more grim from Land of Decay; home to Chicago doom-bringers, Locrian. If you read up on the human being behind DLSODW, Thomas Ekelund, you will read some pretty over the top stuff about his being crazy and needing to make this kind of music to keep him from eating kids or something but, to be honest, i hear it. An almost palpable amount of desperation and fear is present throughout this release. The descriptions you may read on his facebook page may sound as if David Tibet wrote them while doing a David Tibet impression but i would totally give this a listen. It's pretty spectacular, I just hope you aren't allergic to hyperbole.
Thursday, December 2, 2010
Century Plants / Locrian, “Dissolvers” split LP+CDr
December 2, 2010
By Dave Miller
Century Plants are the duo of Ray Hare and Eric Hardiman (who also runs the Tape Drift label). They’ve been on the scene for a few years now with some very nice releases. However, they dropped their CDrs and sidestepped their tape formats to put out their first-ever vinyl. And, I’m sure glad they did! First, with “Fading Out,” the moody atmosphere of the glacial slowburner crawls onto the scene. Then, as it gains more ground, scratchy effects are left in its wake. Then a hovering quality almost knocks the legs out from under this track and elevates it so that it doesn’t just approach you but lingers overhead. Second, “Delirium” is much more chord-concentrated, opening up into a spiritual journey. The repeated chords with echoed effects kind of dance around. I can just imagine some light reflecting off of a slow, small stream of water in a cave darting around on its walls. A great couple of tracks. I think these might be some of Century Plants’ best work yet.
Locrian has become a familiar friend to many of us over the last five years as well. They are the trio of A. Foisy, T. Hannum, and J. Lemos out of Chicago. Known to walk the darker side of drone, they don’t disappoint on “Dissolvers.” Their first track, “On a Calcified Shore,” is looped with a guitar whine and other sporadic effects. That whine is pretty cool though, almost like some alarm that’s gone out of order. The second track, “Omega Vapors,” has a very bass-driven undercurrent. Higher-pitched guitar reverb is dripped over top like a Pollock to his canvas. Cascades of these notes flit about, only to end on a more dour, beastly low toward the end. Another great side!
I’m not sure why, probably the name, “Dissolvers,” but this LP has opened my eyes to what’s going on in much of experimental music today. I think—and maybe you have a different take—that I approach each release from an artist as a discovery as to what they have created out of their ideas, accidents, and equipment. Like erecting some kind of soundscape sculpture. But, this LP has helped me to not think of this wide genre as something forward-acting, something building, something making. Rather, I think of this as not so much a creative service to music but a complete destructive disservice to music. This is a total deconstructive act to audio enjoyment. It is a disassembling of what we have always traditionally understood music to be. The elements and principles of music are picked apart, dismembered, dissected so that we can see why those things matter and what these things are on their own. It’s completely violent. In drone’s case, you pretty much reduce everything down to the most basic building block of music: the vibration. Vibrations are what we hear, they are the sounds that soothe and attack. And instruments are handy, easily manipulative means through which we can create such vibrations. When these sounds are assembled just right and connected as though they belong together they become musical. But, if all music is is a sound then who cares how they are made or what makes them? So, after our musical edifice has been razed, why not build again with the broken rubble before the dust has even settled? And that is the deal behind this stuff. This isn’t good or bad. It just is. It’s a result of our times and a product of the avant-garde. No matter how you look at it, however, I’m very glad that it happened. I have been able to see through a new prescription how marvelous a world of sound can be. I have felt a greater range of emotions and felt more connected with what’s deep down in me than ever before through experimental music.
Well, not only the talent on this record, nor just the insightful realizations it has invoked, but even the gorgeous packaging on this one make this well worth the money. It comes in a gorgeous black sleeve with silver ink. Minimalistic fonts and a nice, solid pic of a building (?) adorn the cover. The back continues the same font and its use, with another squared and centered pic, this time of a tree. It also comes with a heavy cardstock insert with a nice printed photo and band information on either side of it for each artist. The beautiful cherry on top is that it also comes with a killer CDr with a remix of each track on the album. What a nice extra, huh! I almost think it’s worth it just for that. Having such a perfect package I think Tape Drift should change its name and deal more with records. If they ever do come out with another vinyl release I will be expecting great things since the bar has been set so high. Don’t miss this piece of Tape Drift history! Limited to 300.
Wednesday, December 1, 2010
Simply put, it's ambience. Pure ambience. Sheer electronic, drone-y soundscapes that take a helluva lot of patience to dilvulge. But twenty minute long compositions of not alot that subtley flicker and coerce aren't everybody's cup of tea now, are they? If they are, keeping. "Red Nurse - Vigilante! - White Nurse" is best described as stargazing, both in sound and in scope; there's less going in "Sisters, Impure Pillars Before The Sea" leading it to feel more 'hollow', and in turn, darker. It gradually starts to build, adding more, and giving the impression of waves gently crashing.
The production is utterly flawless, which helps "Male Fantasies" to no end. If you allow it time to absorb you, you'll be rewarded with the little nuances that Jendon applies underneath the warm, soothing electronic buzz. It's the little things, that could easily be noises found in nature or occurances from your average day - though I suspect they are entirely synthetic - that are ultimately the difference between a rewarding listen and a pointless one. 
Download: Red Nurse - Vigilante! - Whie Nurse
For The Fans of: Ambient, Drone music
Release Date April 2010
Land Of Decay
Brett gave this 5/5.
I’m loving the feel of this fucker – lovely thick gatefold sleeves like this are almost enough to break the twelve-inch fetish of a vinyl hound. I’m also loving that this is named after (and the amazing artwork seemingly inspired by) the early JG Ballard book. The first disc here paints the picture of that titular crystal world assimilating everything in sight via doomy dark ambience, black metal soundscapes, heavy industrial drone and frequent electronic supplementation. It’s a seriously bleak scene in a lot of ways, but there’s definitely more than a touch of beauty to be found in it, particularly in ‘Elevations’ which ends the disc. The second half of this opus is taken up by just the one fifty-three minute track which goes by the name of ‘Extinction’ and can probably best be summed up by some combination of the phrase ‘more please’ with the words ‘whoa’, ‘drone’, ‘fuck’, ‘ouch’, ‘devastating’, ‘noise’ and ‘holy’. Probably with some other words between the! m. Singular and stunning – they’ve totally created a world here!